This much is clear: the Royals help for next season and beyond will mostly come from within. That's good news for a club with limited funds in the first place, and when the assistance looks as good as the Kansas City farm system, then that's very good news. Still the major league club will be waiting for a bit for all its rookie reserves to surface up top, so this winter's free agent market should provide at least a couple of answers for a club in need of mostly everything.
As the Winter Meetings begin next Monday, the Royals will likely be in several conversations with agents about their players and other front office personnel about possible trade targets. The Royals have said they're not interested in Kevin Millwood anymore but maybe they should be.
Simply put, Millwood is exactly what the Royals need -- a guy who can take the mound every five days and give a team 200 plus innings over the course of the 2011 season. The Royals must be careful not to tax their bullpen if they want to remain competitive as the season wears on. Given the reality that the Royals will likely call up their promising players after the All-Star Break, anything they can do to create a winning atmosphere in the second half of the season is a win
Last season, Millwood started 31 games for the Orioles and certainly didn't enjoy anything close to a winning environment, especially since he took 16 losses officially himself. His ERA also took a big hit with a 5.10 mark that easily became his career-worst. Outsiders might believe Millwood has lost his stuff, but he maintained a solid K rate in line with his career numbers and he allowed a career high 30 homers last year. Repeating that is not likely given the move to Kansas City.
Either way, Millwood should come cheaper given last season and yet he's as the very definition of workhorse over the last decade or more. The Royals need a veteran to anchor the staff and while he's not dazzling, he'll get the job done. In the end, it's hard to believe there's a better starting pitcher for the Royals to pursue this off-season.